Hollywood Faces Strike Over New Media Fees - InformationWeek

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7/1/2008
05:04 PM
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Hollywood Faces Strike Over New Media Fees

The Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers are fighting over new media residuals and other contract terms.

"Our final offer to SAG represents a final hope for avoiding further work stoppages and getting everyone back to work," the AMPTP said in an announcement. "That is our goal, and we hope it is shared by the members of SAG. The economic consequences of a work stoppage would be enormous. If our industry shuts down because of the unwillingness of SAG's Hollywood leadership to make a deal, SAG members will lose $2.5 million each and every day in wages. The other guilds and unions would lose $13.5 million each day in wages, and the California economy will be harmed at the rate of $23 million each and every day."

The group said the offer, worth $250 million, includes "groundbreaking new media rights," but details were not immediately available. A source familiar with the agreement confirmed that it resembles other recent Hollywood union contracts and it includes actors' residuals and re-use fees for new media in most circumstances. The rates are based on complicated formulas that take into account several factors, including how old a show is and whether it was originally produced for television.

The AMPTP's tough stance comes after SAG embarked on an unprecedented campaign to get members of the American Federation of Television and Radio artists to vote against ratifying a similar agreement with the AMPTP.

AFTRA and SAG share members as well as jurisdiction over production.

AFTRA members must submit their ballots on the contract by July 8.

Both sides planned to meet to discuss the offer on Wednesday, but SAG leadership has indicated they are not happy with the terms. The union, however, isn't in the best position, since others in the film industry have approved similar contracts.

"It's a very tough climate in which to make these kinds of arguments," Jonathan Handel, a digital media lawyer with the Los Angeles firm Troy Gould, said during an interview Tuesday. "SAG is the caboose."

And, regardless of how AFTRA members vote and whether SAG strikes, movie production is likely on hold until August, Handel said.

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